Council Members

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state commission within the Executive Branch of state government. It was established in 1967 to serve as the official agency to expand and grow the state's arts and culture.

Kate Blacklock is a Providence-based artist who received her undergraduate degree from University of California at Santa Cruz and her MFA from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island College and for nine years co-chaired the Ceramics Department at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she was Associate Professor. She has been teaching in the Industrial Design Department at RISD since 2002. Blacklock’s studio work has moved from sculptural and functional ceramics to photography and painting. She has had solo exhibitions around the country including in New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence and Ann Arbor. Her photographic imagery has been used in many large-scale commercial projects including hotels in Florida, New York City, San Diego and recently in the country of Bahrain. In 1996, she was an artist-in-residence at the Manufacture National de Sèvres, outside of Paris. Her works are in many private and public collections.

Lorraine Hynes was most recently the Purchasing Agent for the State of Rhode Island, where she had administrative charge of central purchasing, including Higher Education and the Department of Transportation. As head of the Rhode Island Division of Purchases, she had the responsibility to plan, organize and direct the activities of the Division of Purchases. She also engaged in contracting and purchasing of supplies, materials, construction (vertical and horizontal), equipment and services required by departments and agencies of state government. Additionally, she represented the administration in real estate and contractual agreements for the acquisition and rental property and buildings. For many years, she served as Chairperson of the Architects, Engineers and Consultants Committee, Habilitation Procurement Board, head of Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), member of the statewide Capitol Projects construction committee, Legislative liaison for the Department of Business Regulation, paralegal and member of the Veteran’s $90 million dollar building committee and other boards and commissions.

Prior to working for the State of Rhode Island, Lorraine worked in numerous governmental positions ranging from Public Works Assistant to appointment as Administrative Assistant to the Mayor in the Town of Cumberland, Rhode Island. She later went on to serve on the Cumberland Town Council for twelve years and as Council President, managing town finances and Capitol projects.

Additionally, Ms. Hynes has played leadership roles in public safety, as a fire commissioner, acquisition of open space land, and other public service-related boards.

In January of 2015, Lorraine was approved as an exhibiting artist member at the Providence Art Club. She has been a member of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) since July 2014. This was a recommendation by Governor Lincoln Chafee and approved by the Senate. Lorraine is a member of the Cape Cod Art Association, Bristol Art Museum, Newport Art Museum, Portsmouth Art Guild and the current President of the Wickford Art Association.

During his tenure as president of National Education Association Rhode Island, Larry Purtill has held numerous positions of leadership on statewide boards and commissions, in both the labor and education communities. He currently is secretary treasurer of the Institute for Labor Studies and Research and is on the board of directors of the Working Rhode Island coalition and the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Purtill is a member of the Executive Committee Rhode Island AFL-CIO. He taught history in Exeter-West Greenwich for twenty-two years prior to taking office in 1999.

Dominique Alfandre has been involved in arts management since college, where she managed the Radcliffe Choral Society, produced plays and inhaled a seminar in arts management taught by Tom Wolfe. On graduation, she moved to New York City, becoming Assistant Manager for Nikolais Dance Theatre and then a press representative at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She moved to Newport with her husband Thomas Palmer in 1982, just at the time that Miki Ohlsen and a group of dancers were forming the Island Moving Company. First as a Board member and later as a paid manager, Dominique worked with the ballet company, recently retiring as Executive Director. Meanwhile, she became active in the arts community in Rhode Island, and was especially interested in the need for a performing arts space for Newport. In that time, she helped found the RI Dance Consortium; RI Citizens for the Arts; and the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County, which she chaired for eight years. She has worked as a consultant with Janice Kissinger at Non-Profit Advisory Services and has offered counsel to many fledgling arts organizations. She has served on the Boards of Island Arts, RI Citizens for the Arts and the Newport Performing Arts Center. She currently serves on the Boards of the Newport Performing Arts Center, the Arts & Cultural Alliance and the RI State Council on the Arts. Additionally, she is co-Chair of Island Moving Company’s Choreographing Our Future capital campaign and chairs the newly formed Board of the Newport String Project. Dominique was a 2005 RI Foundation Fellow and received the Arts & Business Council’s Arts Advocate Award in 2005. In 2010, she was recognized for her contribution to the arts community with the inaugural annual “Dominique Award” by the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County.

Mary-Kim Arnold is a poet, writer, and artist. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020) and Litany for the Long Moment, an experimental memoir about her failed search for her Korean birth mother.  (Essay Press, 2018). She has been honored by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, and her work has been featured in NPR’s Code Switch. Other writings have appeared in Hyperallergic, Conjunctions, The Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

Ms. Arnold graduated with Honors from Brown University with a B.A. in English and American Literature. She went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown in fiction. After more than a decade working in nonprofit administration, notably as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and later, Director of Evaluation and Learning at the Rhode Island Foundation, she attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts and graduated with an MFA in Poetry. She now teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown and in The Newport MFA, a low-residency graduate program at Salve Regina University.

She is the recipient of a 2020 Howard Foundation Fellowship, the 2018 MacColl Johnson Fellowship, and the 2017 Fellowship in Fiction from RISCA. She serves as Senior Editor for Collaborative & Cross-Disciplinary Texts at Tupelo Quarterly.

Adopted from Korea and raised in New York, Ms. Arnold lives in Pawtucket with her husband and children.

Suzanne Augenstein, Providence, has worked in federal and state government, for a Fortune 500 company and previously served on the Council in the early 2000s. She recently retired from the Office of the Governor, where she worked as the Director of Executive Operations. She is currently a contractor for the Rhode Island Department of Housing, under Secretary Stefan Pryor. Her other previous roles included service with R.I. Secretary of Commerce, R.I. Supreme Court and U.S. Congressman James Langevin. She holds an undergraduate degree in Arts Management and a graduate degree in Public Administration. Augenstein’s community service includes Tockwotton on the Waterfront, R.I. Supreme Court Disciplinary Board, Chief Justice Appointment, Providence Performing Arts Center - Scholarship Committee, Arts and Business Council of R.I. (Formerly Business Volunteers for the Arts, R.I.) and Rhode Island College Alumni Association Board Member.

Marisa Angell Brown is the Associate Director of the Center for Complexity at Rhode Island School of Design. She is a historian, educator and curator whose work focuses on the intersections between art, design, community and justice, with a special interest in preservation, public memory, public art and spatial practice. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, Places Journal, Perspecta, Manual, Buildings and Landscapes, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Her curatorial projects have been featured in Metropolis, Architectural Record, Associated Press, the Providence Journal and the Public’s Radio. Brown teaches college-credit courses at the women’s prison in Rhode Island with College Unbound and teaches a graduate seminar at the Rhode Island School of Design, titled Art and Design as Community Practice.  Before joining the Center for Complexity, she was an Assistant Director at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University, where she taught graduate seminars in preservation, public humanities and directed community partnerships, public programs and research initiatives on placekeeping, public art, museum practice, and public history.  

Brown received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from Yale University, a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s from Princeton University.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and is on the board of the Rhode Island State House Restoration Society.  She is Korean American and grew up in Dubai and New York City.  She lives in Fox Point, Providence with her spouse, two teen-aged children and their beloved family dog, Molly.


Mohamad Farzan, one of NewPort Architecture LLC’s founding principals, has been practicing architecture in Rhode Island for the past 30 years. Some of his major projects are: the Opera House/ Newport Performing Arts Center (2004- ongoing), Newport Congregational Church (2010- ongoing),  Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport (2013) published in the Spring 2016 book by RISD Adaptive Reuse Studio, Newport Art Museum (2011), Newport Historical Society (2015), Hope Club, Providence (2004), Carnegie Abbey Golf House, Portsmouth (2000), Vanderbilt Hall Hotel and Spa, Newport (1998 and 2007), and Salve Regina University’s Fairholme Carriage House Dormitory, Newport (2000), along with many residential projects throughout New England.

Mohamad received his architectural training at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and also holds an MArch from Tehran University. After practicing in London for several years, he crossed the pond to the USA, where he worked for Cubelis & Associates, William Starck Architects, and the former Newport Collaborative Architects before helping to found NewPort Architecture, LLC. He has been honored with several awards, including the Providence Business News’ Business Excellence Award, Newport Historical Society Preservation Award, Newport Restoration Foundation Doris Duke Award in Historic Preservation, and two AIA/ri Awards. In addition, Mohamad has been a visiting critic at Rhode Island School of Design and Roger Williams University architecture schools.

Mohamad has served on the Newport Historic District Task Force, commissioned by the City of Newport, Preserve Rhode Island, Newport’s World Heritage Nomination Committee, Rhode Island Senate’s Commission to Study Development of Commercial Historic Buildings, the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Design Review Panel, and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. He currently serves on the Board of the Bellevue Avenue Ochre Point Neighborhood Association. Mohamad also contributed much of his time to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), having recently completed a term on the National Board and was honored as a Richard Upjohn Fellow in 2013. In addition, he was responsible for publishing the AIA Guide to Newport.

Jennifer Fonseca serves as the Director of Marketing and Client Services at Site Specific, a design-build construction company headquartered in Providence. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in photography from the University of Notre Dame. Studying art and design, took Jennifer to the west coast of France, where she spent a summer living and working with other artists through a Rhode Island School of Design Program. Jennifer also holds a Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Notre Dame and has experience in public and private art education. She pursues drawing, photography, and printmaking in her free time and also enjoys reading, gardening, and traveling with her husband and young daughters. Jennifer is also a member of the Providence Art Club.

David Kim is an artist, scientist and educator with a deep commitment to making the arts more inclusive and accessible to local communities. His creative practice centers on cultivating digital, biological and social systems for catharsis and community empowerment and has been featured in Wired, Smithsonian, The Providence Journal, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Art in America and the 2013 Venice Biennale. Kim currently serves on the boards of Providence-based nonprofit arts organizations Queer.Archive.Work [] and The Steel Yard. Formerly a cancer and genetics research biochemist, Kim returned to school for Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts at University of California, San Diego, and the Digital+Media MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In 2014, he launched RISD's Co-Works Research Lab where he continues to serve as director and supports experimentation with emerging technologies. Kim is RISD Sculpture faculty and has also taught at institutions including Brown University, Brandeis University and the School of Visual Arts NYC.

Bethany Lardaro lives in Hopkinton and holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Communications from Rhode Island College. She has worked in banking since 2004 and started with her current employer, Washington Trust, in 2009. Participating and giving back to the community has been a lifelong value held by Lardaro. Joining Washington Trust, known for its culture of service; both to customers and to the communities it serves, is a decision that she is proud of. Lardaro started her career as a branch manager and now works as a Private Client Advisor specializing in wealth planning. Through her tenure, she has participated in programs to promote financial literacy such as understanding credit, retirement planning seminars and succession planning for business owners.  She has worked with people at all phases of their financial journey. Lardaro was drawn to the RISCA council because she has deep respect and admiration for those who create. She believes that art feeds the soul and enhances our lives in every way. Community service has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Lardaro earned her Gold Award through Girl Scouts, which is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout. She is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and most recently worked on the Camp Hoffman Centennial Committee. She has served as a mentor for an elementary aged child for three years through an organization called South Kingstown CARES and served on its board. She also served on the board of directors for the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce for thirteen years. She has been the co-chair of the Rhode Island Calamari Festival since its inception in 2014. 

Silvermoon Mars LaRose, a member of the Narragansett Tribe, is the Assistant Director of the Tomaquag Museum. She assists the Executive Director with managing the museum’s collections and archives, cultural education and the Indigenous Empowerment projects. Silvermoon has worked in tribal communities for over twenty years, serving in the areas of health and human services and education. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to travel extensively, learning from Indigenous communities throughout the United States. Silvermoon is also a member of the Rhode Island Foundation’s inaugural cohort of the Equity Leadership Initiative. As a public servant, Silvermoon serves as the Secretary for the Charlestown Conservation Commission. As an artist and educator, she hopes to foster Indigenous empowerment through education, community building, and the sharing of cultural knowledge and traditional arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a minor in Justice Law and Society from the University of Rhode Island, and a partially completed Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University.

Kara Kelly Milner is a passionate education advocate committed to local, state, and national equity and advancement efforts. She is a member of the Teach for America – Rhode Island Advisory Board and was a founding Advisory Board member for the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now, serving as RI-CAN’s board chairperson in 2016. In her home community, Kara helped found the Bristol-Warren Education Foundation, serving as Board Chairperson for the organization’s first four years. She was a Trustee of the Moses Brown School from 2014-2022. 

Kara holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from the University of Virginia. She and her husband David Milner live in Bristol with their three children.